Desktop as a service
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The world of cloud computing seems to be a bottomless well of new and exciting (or boring) acronyms. You may have heard of SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS — but here is one you might be as familiar with, Desktop-as-a-service or DaaS.

What is DaaS? How does it Work?

DaaS stands for Desktop-as-a-Service, and it is a type of virtual computing. A recent report by the Citrix Service Provider Center of Excellence revealed that the DaaS market has continued to “mature and evolve” in recent years — and Angel Chavez, Founder and President of Switzerland-based Open Sky Networks and Founder of cloud strategy blog, The Cloud Chick, knows why. “DaaS is a means of providing cloud-based workspaces to employees. The technology [makes] uses of the physical terminal, [such as a laptop, PC or tablet], to communicate with the workspace hosted by the company’s cloud provider,” Chavez began.

DaaS helps alleviate the cost, time, and potential legal implications when an employee forgets a laptop on the subway — because the data (and indeed, the entire desktop) is located elsewhere. “Using the DaaS infrastructure means that all applications and data [are] being accessed [more] securely, from the company’s own infrastructure. In a DaaS environment, no sensitive information is stored on a local machine,” she continued.

Related Article: IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS Cloud Computing Architectures Compared

DaaS Vs VDI: Virtual Desktop Infrastucture, But In The Cloud

“It sounds just like Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI),” I hear you say. However, there is a vital difference between DaaS and VDI. VDI refers to when virtual desktops are served through on-premise servers maintained by in-house IT teams. It’s the traditional way to deploy and manage virtual desktops. But since it’s on-premise, VDI technology technology must be maintained, managed, and upgraded in-house whenever necessary.

DaaS on the other hand, is a cloud-based virtual desktop solution that separates virtual desktops from on-premise servers, enabling brands to leverage a third-party hosting provider. It’s like VDI, but in the cloud instead of in the back of the office. 

Brad Peterson, VP of Marketing at Cupertino, Calif.-based Workspot, expanded upon this point. “Virtual desktop infrastructure is provided through on-site technology solutions and require a hardware stack maintained by IT administrators. Legacy VDI solutions are complex tools. Not only do they require a complex stack, they also require purchasing servers and storage and obtaining a data center,” Peterson said.

“They’re expensive to implement,” he continued, stating that a virtual desktop server could cost anything up to, “$200,000 once you’ve purchased and implemented all of the needed infrastructure.”

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of DaaS?

According to Chavez, one of the most significant advantages of incorporating a DaaS model is cost-saving. “DaaS provides virtualized desktops on an operational basis, meaning that the price is on a subscription model, rather than a perpetual license model. This is often the most cost-efficient method,” Chavez said.

Chevas also returned to her point about DaaS solutions securing sensitive information, instead of leaving them to be stored on local machines. “When the desktop is hosted [in the cloud], rather than local, the concerns around sensitive data living on personal devices is minimal. Also, if a device is stolen or otherwise compromised, the desktop itself remains secure,” stated Chavez.

Trave Harmon, CEO at Worcester, MA.-based Triton Computer Corporation, added that a DaaS system can be “easily and quickly” provisioned to meet your changing requirements. He also commented on how the DaaS model can easily integrate with legacy IT systems, “[including] VPN technology. [Plus, you don’t have] to worry about hardware failure, since the entire system is cloud-based.”

While Chevez made it clear that investing in a DaaS solution can be cost-effective, she also noted that — if brands are wreckless — DaaS solutions can rack up high costs. “Although it’s an operational expense, it can be expensive. One of the most important elements of a DaaS strategy is finding [a] provider who offers a true price without hidden charges for usage. [Also], when considering a budget, it can be difficult to plan resource allocation, therefore [it is] important to understand the scalability and penalties of the cloud provider offering the service,” she said.

Harmon cited internet connectivity as another disadvantage if a brand becomes too over-reliant on a DaaS provider. “If your [internet] provider is flaky at best, you will have a poor experience and not be able to access your resources. [Plus], if your applications are graphic intensive, and require high 4K definition, depending on your Internet speed, you'll [also] have a poor time,” he explained.

What’s your take on DaaS? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!